For the ones who seek a little adventure and spectacular views, the hike up to the summit of Ella rock is a vantage point you don’t want to miss out on! It is absolutely one of the best things to do in Ella. The hike is free of charge and offers amazing views on the Ella gap. In this blog post you will find all the details about the Ella Rock hike, directions and the best time to hike Ella Rock.
Where is Ella Rock
Ella Rock is located just a little outside of Ella town in the middle of Sri Lanka. The beautiful green mountains of Ella makes the Ella rock hike a must do while staying in Ella.
How long is Ella Rock hike
The total hike to Ella Rock and back to Ella town is 8 km long and takes 4 hours from start to finish. But schedule some more time for short stops and of course to admire the amazing view on the summit.
When to hike Ella Rock
The best time to start the hike is early morning because of several reasons. To beat the heat and to have the chance of a clear view and magical sunrise. But you have to be an early bird for that! If you want to see the sunrise you have to leave Ella town at 4AM. It’s best to have a headlamp so you don’t have to use your flashlight of your phone.
Navigation Ella Rock
Starting at the famous Ella train station, you have to follow the train rails going to Kandy for approximately 40 minutes until you arrive at Kithalella railway station. Be aware of the oncoming trains, or dogs ;), when walking on the train tracks!
If you see a sign with Ella Rock / waterfall, ignore this sign and just keep walking! If locals try to lure you through this route, just thank them and keep walking along the track and past the train station. After 5-10 minutes, you have to look out for a rock marked with a blue arrow and a label which reads ‘Ella Rock’. Turn left at this juncture. The marking fades over time (and may even be covered with cement), so make a note that you have to turn left after waymarker 166 ½ but before waymarker 166 ¼. It is a very narrow path and you will see a bridge that crosses a waterfall. After this, you will pass a tomato plantation, long grass, tea plantations and you will pass the garden of some local Sri Lankan homes. You will then see a lower beautiful viewpoint and reach the forest of Eucalyptus trees where any path going up will take you to the top of Ella Rock.
Do you need a guide to hike Ella Rock?
We don’t think it’s necessary to have a guide to hike Ella Rock. If you follow the navigation steps as explained in this blog, you will get to the peak quite easy. But if you’re alone, or if having a guide makes you feel more comfortable, you can pay for a local to show you the way. The price is around 1500 rupees per person, but you can try to negotiate for a better price.
Another thing to be aware of, is that there might be touts along the way up. These people say you’re going the wrong way, or try to direct you to the ‘correct’ route, which is actually the wrong way. They will walk with you, and as soon as you find out you’re a bit lost, they say they will be your guide to make money from you.
What to prepare for the Ella Rock hike
Good hiking shoes is a must as you don’t want to do this hike with flip flops or sandals. Also pack enough water, I would say at least 1.5 liter. If you’re going for a sunrise hike you also might want to take some light snacks with you.
Also be aware of leeches! Especially after it has rained. To prepare yourself you can wear socks and a tight legging. But if you do find a leech attached to your skin, don’t pull it off, as the mouth parts can remain under your skin. Just remember that leeches aren’t poisonous and they don’t carry diseases, so don’t panic when you find one. Leeches are usually quite easy to remove and won’t cause any long-term harm. The best option to remove a leech is to use something flat, like a creditcard for example, and slide it under the leech to break the seal, at which point the leech will detach its tiny jaws. There are other options mentioned to remove a leech by Sri Lankan locals or on the internet. Like using salt, alcohol, DEET or lemon juice so the leech will fall off by itself. But this is not the best and safest option because the leech will detach itself quickly, but it’s also likely to leave some of the contents of its stomach into the wound in its haste. This might increase the risk of the wound becoming infected.
More things to do Ella
Another must thing to do during your stay in Ella is visiting the Nine Arch bridge. And if you’re into another hike, you can’t miss Little Adam’s Peak which is a bit shorter than Ella Rock.
Read more in our complete guide about the best things to do in Ella